Posted on: November 19, 2019
’Tis the season for festive parties, warm gatherings of family and friends, laughter and nostalgic reminiscing about happy celebrations of the past. And food. Lots and lots of food.
Designated times for celebration and feasting are as old as mankind, and we seem hard-wired to need these occasions. But since the industrial revolution’s mass production of food, especially refined flour and sugar, the holidays became “all wrapped up” (pardon the pun) with unhealthy foods.
Sweet and Dangerous
The season kicks off with Halloween, long associated with sugary “treats.” With treats like that, who needs poison? If that sounds harsh, you may be nostalgic for the “good old days,” before we knew better. But we do know better, so we must take off the rose-colored glasses.
We now know that refined sugar is an addictive drug and a metabolic poison, pure and simple. It scrambles hormones, blasts blood sugar on a roller coaster, decks the immune system, and rots teeth, among other things.
One friend shocked a health-minded group out of their sugar nostalgia. They were all seated around a large conference table. She brought out a clear, wedge-shaped, take-out container and set it on the table. Inside was a deli slice of gourmet, three-layered cake, an inch thick with chocolate icing.
“Mmmmmm,” everyone said, joking that they hoped she brought lots of forks to pass around. She just smiled. Then, she asked them all to close their eyes, and in their imagination, see themselves gliding a fork into that soft, dark icing and the cake beneath. Imagine tasting that bite, and the delicious sweetness of the creamy chocolate frosting, melting in their mouths.
She talked slowly, as if guiding a meditation, but while their eyes were closed, she replaced the cake on the table with something else. “You can open your eyes now,” she said. On the table was an open can of Crisco. A spatula was sticking out of the stiff, white, solid fat.
“This,” she said, pulling a huge glob of white fat out of the can, “is what that icing is made out of. That, plus sugar and chocolate powder. Shall I pass this around for you all to take a big yummy bite?”
Needless to say, they were grossed out … and probably hated her for shattering their nostalgic illusions. But she was pretty sure they never forgot that demo. And as a side note: alcohol, wine, and beer all translate to sugar.
“But,” I can almost hear you say, “how can we celebrate the holidays without special treats? We need some foods that are not part of the everyday diet, tasty foods that make us happy!”
Yes, I agree. Fun, festive foods make happy memories. It’s just a matter of mind-set. Once you opt to go healthy, you’ll find tons of creative, delicious, tasty recipes online (Paleo, for example) made with wholesome, healthy ingredients. Even pies, cakes, and cookies—but the ingredients make all the difference!
When you commit to eating a healthy diet, free from sugar and refined flour, you’ll be surprised that it’s not as hard as you might have imagined, even during the party season.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t go to parties starving. Make sure you eat some well-balanced food beforehand.
- Fats and proteins keep you full longer, and you’ll have more will power to resist sweets.
- Healthy fats include avocado; coconut oil; olive oil; raw, grass-fed butter; and almond butter.
- Make sure you are well hydrated. See if electrolyte tablets (at the natural food store) help you feel better and more energized naturally.
- Embrace your Zen: manage expectations, make sleep a priority, and reduce stress (schedule massages).
If you can, bring healthy, yummy food to a party, and introduce others to a new, fun way of eating. If you approach the topic, not as a “poor-me,” deprivation-diet that you’re chained to, but as an adventure you’re excited about, with new flavors and foods you’ve discovered, you
may end up being the star of the food table.
Strapped for time?
Try these simple ideas for a party potluck:
- Dates, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with whole almonds
- Fresh fruit kabobs: alternate red and green grapes, pineapple cubes, and coconut-covered banana chunks (soak banana chunks in lemon juice and roll in grated coconut flakes)
- Shelled, salted pistachios (or other favorite nuts)
- Assorted olives and pickles from an olive bar
- Organic hummus with veggies (or Mary’s Gone Crackers Super-Seed varieties) to dip
- Dark chocolate, high in cacao but low in sugar
If you’re going to have an alcoholic beverage, opt for the least sweet. For example, avoid Sangria and margaritas, and choose sauvignon blanc wine. And be moderate. All alcohol is sugar, even the least sweet.
I often hear, “I knew it was unhealthy but I had to eat it. My co-worker offered me her home-baked sweets. I couldn’t be rude. To refuse would hurt her feelings.”
I understand. From our earliest memories, food is connected to love and nurturing. And when people offer you something in love, and you know it’s unhealthy but they don’t, it can be tricky.
What works for me is to say, “Wow, that looks amazing! Thank you so much for offering. I wish I could try it, but I’m on a special diet right now for my hormone balance. I need to avoid sugar and flour products. But I can eat these things and I’d love to share them with you if you’d like any.” With that, you pull out your festively decorated jar of shelled and salted pistachios and squares of dark chocolate and offer some. Enjoy some with her, and laugh to make her feel at ease about the whole situation.
You can do it! And, the great thing about it is that it’s not that unheard of anymore. You might become an inspiration for more people in your office to commit to a healthier lifestyle. And don’t you want friends who want to be healthy?
Wishing you and yours very healthy and happy holidays!